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Mayfly trout stream washout

June 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Thunderstorms were forecast across southern England this week on the first day of my three allotted syndicate days, but when none had arrived by lunch time, I took a chance and headed west, hoping to find the mayfly still being gorged by trout. Leaving home it was hot humid sunshine, but the nearer to the river I got, the darker it became. I decided to walk halfway down the river, to then wade back, but a look at the sky told me that I was on borrowed time.

Nothing stirred, my hoped for mayfly were missing, as a massive black cloud moved across from the south. I pushed on downstream, looking for trout among the weed beds. The heat in my waders was building and sweat was dripping down my neck, then as the sun came out, my polaroids began to steam up. I took them off and continued downstream, where a few mayfly had begun to lift off. All was not lost.

Entering the river was a relief, the cooling water having the desired effect of clearing my heat daze and rounding a bend, a rise beckoned me upstream. There was plenty of room to cast and with no wind, the line dropped ahead of another splashy rise. Ignored, I cast the small white mayfly again, watching it disappear in a ripple, tightening the line into a small wild brown that darted left and right, before dropping off as I lifted it from the water toward my hand. Once cursed by these small trout, I now welcome every one as a sign of the river’s recovery. Further up, another rise encouraged me to work the water a yard at a time, in the hope of raising another fish.

 

 

Then the rain started, just a few drops at first, then a cloudburst as a clap of thunder echoed across the pasture. I waded back down to the cover of an alder, tying on an unweighted flash back Hares Ear, while I waited for the shower to pass. This has proved a good alternative to a winged mayfly in the past, greased with floatant, it sits in the surface film like an emerging mayfly nymph. Soon it was dryer out in the diminishing rain, than under the tree, as heavy droplets fell from the leaves. Once again nothing was showing, just the occasional mayfly shaking free from the bankside vegetation, that skidded across the surface.

Again I prospected for takes along this fast shallow section, pausing to concentrate on a deeper glide of gravel and crowsfoot weed. I did not see the nymph sucked from the surface, only to react to the line shooting forward, feeling the surge of a good fish, as it stood on its tail to erupt on the surface. A brief run upstream bent the rod to the water, it springing back as the trout turned, running down behind me. My longhandled net was not to hand and holding my rod high, tried to steer the thrashing fish down toward it. Second sweep, the silver trout was in the net.

This had been an epic battle, controlled by the trout, with me on catch up trying to take the upper hand, expecting the barbless hook to come free at anytime.

No sooner had I unhooked the fish and held it upstream to recover, than the rain began in earnest, getting heavier by the second. With a peaked cap, jacket and chest waders it was bearable, but the river was being hammered and it was not a difficult decision to call it quits.

By the time I had returned to the road, my jacket and shirt were soaked through, but this time the waders held in the warmth from my lower body. While putting my rod away, another member came trudging up the other side of the river, he too had taken a chance with the weather and lost. As we talked, the clouds parted and bright sunshine beamed down, a signal for the mayfly to hatch, that persuaded my companion to pick up his rod and head upstream for some more punishment, while I headed for home.

 

Bread punch common carp challenge

June 1, 2018 at 9:49 am

Days of thunderstorms and their associate downpours had made outdoor activities pot luck, as to whether a soaking was on the cards, or not in recent days, but the forecast for the afternoon was dry and after a few household chores, loaded up the van to take the short drive to my local pond.

The pond is classed as a balance pond, acting as an over spill reservoir for a brook that runs in from the forest through housing estates. The pond was doing its intended job, the banks had been breached overnight showing a tide mark that extended way beyond where I now put my tackle box, the water still just over the bank. A heavy mist kept humidity high, almost to the level of a light drizzle, but there was no wind, which meant no surface drift, the float fisherman’s curse.

As with previous visits to the pond, my approach was to soak some liquidised bread crumb, press it into loose balls and bait an area twenty yards out. Using a cut down pole float, bulk shotted at the  base to allow an 18 inch tail to fall free to a size 14 barbless hook, bait was a double punched 7 mm pellet of bread. This was all cast out on my 12.5 foot Normark float rod. The difference now was, that there was another foot of water, due to the extra flow coming down the brook. Like most carp, when not browsing through the deep sedimentary mud, they cruise around close to the surface, these being my target fish, the punch pellet being slightly buoyant.

When I first fished this pond eight years ago, it had a good head of rudd, which tended be a nuisance, attacking the bread, but like the numerous perch and gudgeon, that I am told were once in abundance here, the only fish are now carp. This now means that any bite will be a decent carp, as with the previous observation, small carp would often be taken along with the rudd, but not anymore. I assume that the deep mud and coloured water have made spawning impossible to the extent that the rudd died out and the carp just get bigger.

I did not need to wait for a bite, the float dipping several times, before vanishing, followed by the V of the line behind it. I leaned back into the strike and nearly got impaled by the float, as it was catapulted out of the water. I had missed one of those express train bites, having watched the bite develope, picked up the rod in readiness, seen the line tighten and failed to connect. The next bite showed interest as the float cocked, the bristle rocking from the turbulence of a carp as it pushed the bread around. I was on the verge of striking as the tip sank to the surface, only to pop up again and be still. The bread was gone. Next I tried striking at the slightest movement. Nothing.

I mixed up some more feed and lobbed it into the swim. The float disappeared again. Missed it. Doing nothing different, the float was gone, the line followed and I made contact with an explosive force that was an unseen carp, that bent the rod double in its first run. Twice I thought that it was ready for the net, but each time it ran again, left and right making for the bankside tree roots. This was fun, the fish was not large, but good sport, a stepped up carp rod with heavy line would have stopped it dead. I had the time and inclination to wait until it was ready for the net.

The hook was just in the side of the mouth and dropped out in the net, this well rounded four pounder being returned immediately. Mixing up the last of my feed, I cast out again. Bubbles had been bursting in the swim from the off. The carp were there. Why couldn’t I catch them? Each bite was a variation on a theme. I tried going deeper by a foot. Twitching the float as a bite progressed. Bigger baits. Smaller baits. I suppose this is why people get addicted to carp fishing. A very learned friend of mine, who knew of my fishing habit, once described angling as the pursuit of the brainless, by the mindless. These wild carp certainly have a brain and I was losing my mind trying to catch another.

I called my wife asking her to delay dinner by an hour. I cut her conversation short. I had another bite and had to go. Missed that one too. With minutes to the new deadline, the float went again and I was in. About the size of the first, the fight was just as hectic. Each time I gained line, I had to give it back. At last the golden flank of a carp flashed, when it rolled; a sure sign of it tiring. Soon it was in the net, the hook barely in the skin of the top lip.

I think that they were playing a game of balance the bait on the end of your nose without being caught.

Whatever the reason for the missed bites, maybe next time I will try a pole with a lighter float and a heavy elastic. This pond is half a mile away from home, I have to go back.

Magtech .22 semi auto longshot with Winchester 42 grain subs between the showers

May 29, 2018 at 11:26 pm

Several months have passed since my last visit to the equestrian centre, where my efforts and that of myxomatosis, had resulted in a couple of visits devoid of rabbits. This 80 acre permission had been overrun with rabbits ten years ago, when I had shot over 200 with my Magtech .22 semi auto in the first year, the mixture of woodland and hedgerows, with mown rides for for the horses to be exercised, giving a wide variety of bunny habitats. I got the permission, when a young female rider’s horse stumbled in a rabbit hole on one of the rides, throwing her off, resulting in a broken back.

It had been a day of sunshine and showers, driving through a heavy downpour on my way that saw me ready to turn back, but blue skies ahead spurred me on, finding the ground already drying as I walked from the stables. The owners had seen more rabbits about again and called for me to come over, dropping in on my way to another shooting commitment. Being light weight, the Magtech is ideal for this sort of shooting, which usually entails a fair bit of walking, while the silenced subsonic bullets do not cause panic among the pastured horses.

It was interesting to see new developments under way, including a new house for the owners and following a recently laid path between paddocks, saw a movement beneath the shadow of a tree. Putting the scope to my eye, a rabbit was sitting looking at me about 40 yards away and I sidestepped behind a tree to my right, bringing the rifle round from cover. Steadied against the tree trunk, I took the shot before it moved off, the .22 Winchest 42 grain subsonic hitting the chest with a thump, that rolled the rabbit over.

With possibly a mile or so to cover, I skinned and paunched this rabbit where it fell, bagging it up, then continuing to explore. The owner’s wife had said of a new group of rabbits along the southern boundary, her husband had cut back bramble bushes encroaching onto the ride there and seen fresh burrows. The sky was beginning to darken and I was keen to add to my tally before another shower

Keeping in close to the edge of the far ride, I could see several rabbits as suggested in an area cleared of brambles, about a hundred yards away, an easy shot for the HMR, but with the heavier and slower Winchester subs, I needed to close that down to at least seventy yards. There was nothing for it, but to get down and elbow crawl the last thirty yards, with the last ten of these being fully exposed. Getting closer, a big buck sat up. I had been spotted. I stopped and sank my face into the ground, only cammo cap and jacket visible in the long grass at the edge. Looking up again, a couple were moving back toward the undergrowth. It was now, or never. Resting the Magtech on my gun bag, I aimed high on the buck’s head and fired, watching it do a backflip, then lie there kicking. A second later I sent a follow up bullet to the head. It lay still. The others were gone. Often a rabbit will kick and run on the spot, though dead, but get traction and disappear into the undergrowth and be lost. Having practiced the double tap shot in the past, I use it most times with the Magtech semi auto.

Pacing out the distance to this rabbit, I counted out seventy eight paces, about eighty yards, a long shot indeed for a .22. Heavier and faster than a standard subsonic, the Winchesters seem very effective compared to the RWS subs I had been using before. At this range I had allowed three inches drop from my 50 yard zero. While cleaning this rabbit, a nearby clap of thunder heralded rain to come and I was soon heading toward a small copse for cover. Rounding a bend, a pair of rabbits were feeding about 60 yards along the ride. I stepped back and got down prone, pushing my gun bag out into the open to rest the rifle, taking a clean head shot to the rabbit sideways on to me. It sank forward. The other rabbit was unaware of the fate of its companion, continuing to munch the long grass at the edge, a head on shot into the head and shoulders sealing the deal. 

It was now quite dark for a May afternoon and spots of rain were falling as I gathered up the rabbits, failing to reach the cover of an oak tree, before the rain came straight down in biblical proportions. Another clap of thunder had me worried, the oak was the tallest tree in the copse, but also with the best canopy, as the rain tap was turned on even harder. The air was full of the smell of rain bouncing off new leaf growth, a fine mist of droplets coating my jacket, as I busied myself with the rabbits.

The storm passed quickly, but not before the copse was thoroughly soaked, making my way back to the stables through another shower. This fleeting visit had bagged some big healthy rabbits from an ignored permission, that will need to be put back on the list for attention.

Trout stream hots up at last

May 20, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Reports of a few fish being taken on mayfly, saw me arrive with some optimism at my syndicate trout stream this week. A continued dry spell had warmed everything up, causing shoots to sprout with avengeance, the trees now full of summer foliage, while the adjacent fields were getting an early hair cut, as a tractor cut fresh grass for hay making.

A few mayfly were lifting off as I walked downstream looking for rising fish, but had to travel half a mile before a ripple from the bank below me indicated a feeding trout. I crept past and waited, Yes, another discrete rise sending out a ripple.

Having seen a white mayfly drift down to be ungulfed by the as yet unknown fish, I searched through my artificials and found a small bodied version to tie on. During winter work parties, we had removed many of the small overhanging saplings, to allow casting along this bank and keeping the rod flat to avoid overhead branches, tried to get close to the fish. Naturals were coming down steadily now and the trout was moving around taking two or three at a sitting, then moving back to the edge. Waiting for a lull, I flicked the fly close to the bank and the fly was gone, lifting into a good trout that ran to down my right toward some weed. Keeping a tight line, I let the 7 foot, 3 weight rod do the all the work, as it bent double. I wanted this fish, but did not want to give it line. Last week I had done just that and lost one. From high on the bank, I had a good view of the fight, waiting for it to slow down showing its flank, before pulling it across to my extended landing net.

The fly was well hooked inside the top of the mouth, but pushed out with forceps, an 18 inch overwintered stockie. Held upstream for a few minutes, it soon recovered to swim free.

I had been waiting for a decent trout since the start of the season and encouraged, decided to walk further down to the confluence of a smaller river. This was coloured and turned back and entered the river a few yards upstream. I do not usually venture this far, but the river here has character, rushing over stones and deep pockets.

With trees behind and above me, casting was not easy, but there were rises to my right in the fast water and cast the mayfly to the spot. The mayfly was ignored, while smaller flies were still being taken. I tied on a size 16 deer hair sedge, ideal for this rough water and recast. It ran down 18 inches then, splosh, the fly was taken by a juvenile trout, which launched into the air and came off. Others were still rising and a positive take made sure of another small wildie, that zig zagged about putting a bend in the rod.

The mayfly hatch seemed to be over, but plenty of smaller flies were being taken, as I waded up round the bend away from the trees, allowing me to cast at will to at least a dozen fish in the next 50 yards. This is what I joined the syndicate for, freestyle fishing, reading the water and always watching for a better fish. On a welsh stream these small browns are the norm, but here I have had some much better fish emerge from the depths in the past. Wading up a bit at a time, most rises were covered, some reached my hand, others shed the barbless hook, the best of about 8 oz, slipping through my fingers as I attempted a photo. A very pretty fish.

Reaching overhanging alders, I had seen an occasional rise and watched as a mayfly drifted into range, seeing the red spots of a trout as it took. Edging closer, the white mayfly was again tied on and I tried a cross body cast, up and across to it. At last I got it right, a foot from the opposite bank the fly drifted down. A splash and it was gone. There was too much slack, I missed it. Not to worry, I’ll be back next week, the mayfly should then be ready for Duffer’s Fortnight”

Bread punch skimmer bream dominate at Kingsley Pond

May 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Seconds before my alarm went off at 7 am, a text message awoke me. It was my friend Peter informing me that he had just arrived at Kingsley Pond, our fishing venue for the day. Thanks Peter. My wife’s plan for the day was to paint our bedroom, which meant me assisting in pulling everything into the middle of the room, before going down for breakfast. With bait out of the freezer, sandwiches and flask made, I was soon on my way toward a daily grid lock traffic situation, where on the roundabout over a motorway, traffic catches up with its tail, desperate drivers not willing to give up a car space making it worse. Car by car, truck by truck, my route onto the empty motorway cleared, taking 45 minutes to travel half a mile. This is why Peter gets up really early to fish, whereas I prefer to travel outside the rush hour, this compromise cost me time on just one day, these commuters face it every day.

The rest of my journey was traffic free and I could soak up the green wooded hills of Hampshire, arriving in the village carpark beside the pond after 9 am. My reason for the visit, was that Peter had bagged up the week before, with lists of fish caught resulting in a keepnet so heavy, that he could not lift it from the water. Arriving on the bank, I found him back in his favourite swim by an island, but this time he had little to report, a 4 lb tench and a small carp, plus a few roach. He was on the same method, feeding pellets over a waggler float twenty yards out, but this time the fish were not really interested.

Dropping off my tackle in the swim next door, I set off back across the road to pay for my guest ticket, only to find that I needed Peter’s membership card to complete the paperwork. Ah bureaucracy don’t you just love it?

By 10 am I was ready to fish, even at this time the sun was beating down, although a refreshing breeze was keeping things comfortable. I had been prepared to fish the pellet like Peter, even bringing two keepnets, but opted for the cautious approach and decided to start on the bread punch. At least I knew that this would get a few fish in the net. Due to the shallow water, I mixed up a sloppy mix of bread crumb and covered the area 4 to 5 metres out with the slow sinking cloud bait. Hoping for big fish today, I had my heavy duty pole set up, complete with heavy elastic, not willing to be given the runaround, as I had last week by large bream and tench on light elastic. This would prove to be a mistake.

Attracted by the cloud of bread, the float was disappearing each put in as small roach and skimmer bream found my 5 mm pellet of bread, only to bounce off again against the heavy elastic. A better sized skimmer worked the elastic and stayed on.

The bites were now slow and deliberate, but the fish very lightly hooked, were being bumped off against the elastic on the strike. After a frustrating hour, with very few fish actually reaching the landing net, it was time for a change. First I stripped off my jacket. It was already too hot. Then I changed poles, putting away the heavy duty job and getting out my other option with the lighter elastic. This had the immediate effect of bringing a fish a cast, although any attempt to swing in even a small roach resulted in a dropped fish.

The skimmers kept coming, while Peter was struggling for a bite on the pellet.

As the temperature rose, I began to miss bites, the bait staying on the hook being a sign that the bread was too hard. It seemed ok to touch, punching out freely, but each time a fresh piece was removed from its protective cling film, I caught fish for several punches, then the cycle would start over. To avoid running out of punch bread, I began tearing off smaller pieces of the fresh doughy slices.

I had some sweet corn as a back up, intending to use it for the tench, big crucians and bream that Peter had promised we would be catching. Adding corn to the bread feed, I tried some on the hook and got a tench bite, struck and caught a roach.

Then another. They wanted the corn and were taking on the drop.

Switching back to bread brought more skimmers.

The skimmers were like peas in a pod, all about the same size and more reliable than the roach,  continuing to hook, play and net them as though on a production line. As the sun moved round, Peter had landed a few more quality fish from the shade in close, a small mirror carp, a two pound crucian and another four pound tench along with some good sized roach. The pellet was paying off at last. I fed an area in the shade to my right with sweet corn, but attracted relatively small roach and considered the wait for a decent fish, if they existed at all in the swim, not worth it, when every time I put in with the punch, a skimmer bream would oblige.

Come 3 pm I’d had enough of the sunshine, while despite trying a few things, had failed to catch anything over 8 oz. Peter had justified sticking it out on the pellet with a good variety of fish.

It had been a busy five hours, once I had changed to the lighter elastic, but still required a gentle touch to get them in on a day too hot, even for mad dogs and Englishmen.

Not what I had expected, over 12 lb of silvers, but a just reward for persistence. On the road by 4 pm, we missed the worst of the traffic and I returned to find a wife pleased with her freshly painted bedroom.

Bread punch tench new personal best

May 12, 2018 at 4:07 pm

On the way to the local garden centre with my wife this week, we passed a sign to a country park not far off our route and decided to check it out. It was free entry offering, wooded walks, picnic areas, a cafe and as we discovered, a lake, where pinned to a tree, was a sign saying that day fishing permits were available from the cafe. After our walk we of course needed a cup of tea and stopped at the cafe, where I found that the day tickets were a very reasonable price.

Loaded down with plants from the garden centre, my wife had her afternoon sorted, while a fishing trip would give me something to do. There were frozen bread slices and liquidised bread in the freezer, so bait was not a problem, and after lunch gathered up my tackle, then headed back to the country park five miles away.

The cafe owner was not a fisherman and had no knowledge of the fish in the lake, “I just sell the day tickets”, so it was going to be a case of suck it and see. With only a pole, I went to the dam end of the lake expecting deep water, but plumbing the depth revealed only two feet at 6 metres. Opting for a shallow pond waggler rig in my box, I mixed up wet, sloppy bread crumb and laced an area 5 to 6 metres out with the feed, and sat back waiting for a bite. There was no surface activity and thought that it might be a long wait.

In my rush to get away, I had left my landing net pole behind and improvised with a keepnet attachment for my tackle box. At only half a metre long, landing a big fish could be difficult.

A minute after the float had settled, a tell tale ring, then a dip warned of some interest in the 5 mm bread pellet, before it slid from view. A lift of the pole and a jiggling fight as I slid the pole back to release the top two sections, bringing a small roach to hand.

The roach were gathering round the feed and it was one a chuck, although another ball of feed seemed to bring smaller fish. Going up to a 7 mm punch, I cast to the side of the feed and got a better roach that required the use of my improvised landing net. It meant breaking down the pole each time to the top two sections, but it worked.

Next cast, the float stayed down and the elastic came out of the pole tip, the fish taking a couple of runs in the shallow water, before my netting technique had a proper test.

A chunky pound bream. This session could be interesting. Going in blind to a water is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like the extra challenge. I am always confident that the Bread will sort out better fish. The next bite proved this, when solid resistance, followed by an elastic stretching run towards a snag to the right of my swim, saw me pulling hard in the opposite direction. The water was boiling as the fish turned and rolled, the wide tail of a bream showing several times before I began to bring the pole back to the last two joints.

A five pound bream. Another test of my netting skills, the size 16 barbless holding firm in the corner of its mouth. Casting in again, the float cruised under and I was in for a repeat performance, these big fish having only one option, run!

These were large bream for such a shallow lake, this one going off with the bait like a carp from the off, running time and again, before succumbing to pressure from the elastic.

The next few fish were quality roach, the bream possibly put off by the commotion of the others. The lake was certainly full of good fish, first impressions belying the reality. The next fish was a mystery, it was bouncing the elastic like a big roach, giving little resistance and I was down to the top two sections with the net ready, when it suddenly woke up and made off in a straight run toward the middle of the lake. I held on against the strain, the elastic in the two sections extending many times its length. Not expecting big fish, I had picked up the pole I use for big roach and rudd with a No 6 elastic, while I should have brought that with the size 12-18 elastic to deal with bigger lumps. Too late now, this was an epic battle, constantly pulling hard to keep the unseen fish from the snags. I was able to get the rest of the pole attached, which gave me more control and leverage, but knew eventually that I would have to break down to the top two metres of pole to land it. I had still not seen the fish and now assumed that it was a carp. Getting weaker, it began to boil in the mirky water close in and with three sections plus the elastic out, I pushed the pole back over my head in an arc, forcing the fish to surface toward the waiting landing net. I was shocked by the sight of a massive tench, open mouthed as it slid over the net. It was in and I lifted it over the bank edge.

Shaped like a barrel, this spawn filled tench had taken forever to get in, no doubt due to that massive tail, fortunately the hook came free from the hard lip with a short jab of the disgorger. Put on the scales the dial went to 6lb 8 oz. Two weeks ago at a club lake my personal best tench had gone from 5 lb to 5 lb 8 oz, now I had topped it by a full pound from a day ticket water. Phew! I was ready for a cup of tea and a slice of homemade banana fruit cake, my hands still shaking as I poured from the flask, spilling half a cup.

I made up some more sloppy bread and threw it out. I doubted whether much would be hanging round after that disturbance, but after a few more roach, the elastic came out again as another bream went through the motions of escape.

By comparison to the tench, this was a doddle to get in at around three pounds and I added it to my crowded keep net. It was now close to going home time, the Friday afternoon traffic in this area tailing back a mile to get to the motorway and I was going to try  a longer less congested country road route back. I had started fishing at 2 pm and made 5 pm my target, but I was in a just “one more fish” mode as it approached. The roach were still coming, when the elastic came out again, this time there was nothing to shout home about, a small bream coming to the net at a leisurely pace to be the last of the three hour session.

With effort I pulled the net from the water, hooking the scales to one of the inside lifting straps, registering 28 lbs of fish, which included a pile quality of roach.

My attempts to take a pic of the net contents proved impossible to capture, but the size of that tench cannot be denied. I returned these as carefully as I could, hoping that next time my expectations are not too great. The new longer distance route, cut 20 minutes off the shorter congested route, so it ended up a win win sort of day.

Urban trout river confidence booster

May 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Following my inability to catch trout on my syndicate trout river, I drove this week to the urban, roadside trout river 15 miles north of my home, just to prove to myself that I could still catch on the fly.

Parking in a residential road, I walked upstream from the bridge to a green above a bus stop, where a cloud of tiny flies were hovering above the surface, being mopped up by waiting trout.

The river here is clear, and I watched a dozen trout of various sizes rising to the minute flies. Impossible to match, probably needing a size 24 hook, I tied on a size 16 Sedge and waited for an individual trout to rise. My first cast to a better fish was intercepted immediately by a fingerling that gyrated off the hook, but not before it had spooked my target trout. Drying off the fly and applying some more floatant, I kept lookout for another substantial rise, seeing a trout dive back to the cover of a weed bed. A few casts later, I got it right, the trout rose and dived back again as the hook was set in a fountain of spray set off by the cartwheeling trout. Not big, maybe over half a pound, but still putting a good bend in the rod, the brownie rushed from bank to bank, until on its side ready for the landing net.

A beautiful wild brown trout, I was sorry to see that it had been marked by the line, while twisting in the landing net. Unhooked in the net, I carried the trout back to the water holding it upstream, until it swam off. Working up toward the overhanging laurel, I hooked and swung in a parr of 6 inches, that had again made a splashy take for the fly intended for a better fish. False casting got the Sedge floating again ready for another target trout. The smaller fish were attacking the soup of small flies, while their elders were looking for something bigger to eat. A successful cast and the fly was swallowed down by a larger rod bender, that fought hard along the opposite bank, before coming to the net.

This fat wild trout was soon returned to swim again, followed up by yet another junior cousin from under a tree on the far side. I then noticed a hatch of Mayfly skimming off the surface, one being taken with a plop. I did not think that Mayfly would be on the menu today and had none with me, but a search through the flybox found a size 14 Yellow Humpy, a big bouyant fly of Mayfly proportions. First cast saw a take that lifted a four ounce fish clear of the river, before dropping off. Next, I watched a broad back rise over the fly and struck, hitting into solid resistance, while the trout sat there shaking its head, before charging upstream beneath the laurel with me in hot pursuit, landing net in hand. Keeping the rod low, I began to retrieve against the reel bringing the pound brownie over to my side, only to give line again as it ran along the edge. This was the trout’s last gasp and it rolled over and drifted back to my net.

Facing toward the sun, the reflection of this silvery brownie washed out the bright red spots along its flanks, but it was a fine fish all the same and quickly returned was the best fish so far. At this point the rises stopped, somewhere upstream a lawn was being cut along the river and grass cuttings began to cover the surface. This was my cue to walk back down to the bottom of the stretch, where the river curves away through trees and behind gardens.

Following the river back upstream, the grass cuttings were beginning to clear and a few trout had started to show again, but here there are trees spaced along the bank; also being open, the wind was gusting making casting difficult. Excuses, excuses. The line was being dragged away down stream each time, giving only seconds before it had to be lifted off and cast again. A fish rose two thirds across and I made the cast, getting an instant response that saw a 6 oz brownie jump clear of the water, these well fed trout fighting all the way to the net.

The time was fast approaching 5 pm and every man and his dog would soon be out on the roads going home from work, two hours had flown by and I had proved to myself that it is the syndicate river that is at fault, not me.

Trout river warms up

May 8, 2018 at 11:45 am

The on-off nature of spring this year threw another switch this week into full on summer, single figure temperatures on Monday had climbed into the low twenties by Thursday. A casual sunshine walk in a local bluebell wood with my wife, saw us mobbed by swarms of some of the fattest hawthorn flies that I had ever seen, prompting the question, “Is it ok if I go flyfishing this afternoon?” Hawthorn flies being blown onto my syndicate trout stream have the same effect as the later Mayfly hatch, the trout begin to look to the surface for their food supply.

The sunshine would allow my wife to happily work in the garden, while I optimistically headed off to the river in search of rising trout. Reports were still bad for the river, with only a few small wild trout being caught, but I headed downstream to my own hot spot on an S bend, where I had taken many early season fish in the past.

The nature of the bend had changed since last year, tractors fording the shallows had shifted much of the gravel downstream, creating a rapid shallow straight, that seemed devoid of its previous trout holding pockets. Wading up the straight into the main bend brought no response to my small gold head Hares Ear nymph. This is where I used to be troubled by dace and small browns. Not today. Already I could feel my doubts creeping back about the state of the river. The next half our brought no takes, not even a dace, or chub. I consoled myself that the lack of apparent fly life was the cause and headed back to the road to drive to the wooded mid section of the river.

Two weeks ago it was still winter along this riverside path, now higher temperatures have brought a transformation, wild garlic is filling the air with a heady scent and bluebells are opening out beneath a fresh green canopy. Even a cuckoo was heralding summer as it passed slowly through the wood. Surely this was a good sign?

The river was criss crossed by flies of all sizes, delicate caddis were emerging, while big alders were scudding around the margins, but there were no rises to be seen. I decided to walk down to another once productive pool and work my way back. I stopped in my tracks. A good size fish was rising steadily as I rounded a bend, passing below it to enter the river and wading within casting range. The trout was lying in a depression of a fast stickle, invisible from where I was, a swirl the only indication, as it launched itself at the passing food items. It may have been emerging flies and nymphs, I could not tell and tried my luck with the gold head, which was ignored.

Opening my fly box, an unweighted Black Devil said try me, the trout continuing to rise as I fumbled tying the knot. This midge like nymph has been an early season winner for me and once again cast well above the trout for it to drift by in the twisting current. A boil and a stabbing take. I, or the trout missed it. I continued to cast, it did not rise again. Time to retrace my steps and continue down.

The were no more rising fish and having crossed the river, walked up along the pasture side opposite the wood. In the sunshine, hawthorn flies were involved in courtship dances, some very large specimens among them. There was little breeze and even less chance of them being blown onto the surface, but tied on a size 14 bushy imitation and made casts to imagined trout on my way upstream.

Getting back into the water below where the rising trout had been, I approached with caution from around a bend. There were no rises, but greased the fly up for another try. With a high bank to my side and a tree overhanging on the other bank, casting was not easy. Being right handed, I had to make a flat cast across my chest. It looked awkward, but worked and the big fly floated high among the ripples in the hope of shocking the trout into a take. The shock came after several casts, a flash of gold and the straightening line beneath my bending rod top, being the automatic reaction to the pound plus trout appearing like magic to snatch the Hawthorn from the surface.

This is where I should say that with skill, the trout was played to a standstill, but no such luck, the trout on a tight line, spun and skated across the surface at my feet, until I had the presence of mind to release the reel giving line. Now I stood a chance of the upper hand, as it screamed off line heading upstream like a torpedo. Before I could think “A decent trout at last” it turned and came off. All over in seconds, shock, panic, elation and deflation. That’s fishing.

I continued back upstream, crossing the river again to avoid a field of curious young bullocks, making the occasional cast with the Hawthorn. There were no more rises. Maybe next week will be better?

 

Nitesite Viper and CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR test

May 4, 2018 at 9:53 am

Having secured another new permission, I arranged with the landowner for a walk-round in the evening this week. He suggested that I bring my rifle with me and I put my Nitesite Viper add on in the van just in case there was time to shoot later. Parking in the field, after he had let me through the double combination locks on the gate, I locked the HMR in the car before commencing the tour.

The field is flat grassland, being about ten acres and having a bank rising up to about ten feet above the field. He has fenced, one end and along the bank using “rabbit mesh”, which is obviously not doing its intended job, as burrows were evident either side of the fence, while as we walked, rabbits were slipping out of the long grass into safety beyond the fence. The landowner has put a gate in the fence, which gives access to another thirty acres and climbing up into the area we had a clear view over the field. This extra land was brambles and scrubby trees and we stopped in our tracks to observe a pair of fallow deer, a buck and doe, the buck sporting a good set of antlers. Only a hundred yards away, they turned and loped off into the undergrowth, a wonderful sight.

Once sheep had kept this 30 acres manicured, but now it was well on the way to reverting back to a wilderness and apart from using it as a vantage point for the ten acre field, it held no promise for me. The landowner had had a farm in the area, but sold up to buy this land along with the farm house and three cottages, using the flat field as a recreation area for himself and the tenants, children’s swings, climbing frames and a slide already installed behind the houses.

It was already dusk, when he left me to my own devices, having previously demonstrated how quickly the Nitesite could be fitted to the HMR. The perimeter of the field had been recently mown, leaving a six foot border between the bank and the long grass, an ideal killing zone.

Lying in a corner, I had a clear view along the border to a rise about 150 yards away, all I had to do was to wait for the first customer to appear. The screen of the Nitesite emits a low light back at the viewer and I wear a black ski mask with a cut out for the eyes, to reduce any chance of rabbits being spooked by a ghostly looking human face in the dark. All very cloak and dagger, but necessary. In the gloom there was a movement on the border and I switched on the power to see a rabbit clearly visible against a light background about 50 yards away. Pivoting the rifle to get the crosshairs on line with the head, the rabbit moved, trotting in my direction for 10 yards, then stopped again. That was enough. I squeezed the trigger and it toppled over from a head shot.

Although the rechargeable Lithium battery in the Nitesite has a 7 hour life, I prefer to switch on, scan and switch off again. In complete darkness the rabbit eyes show up brightly, the perfect target. In the semi darkness of this field, another rabbit showed up jet black, its head and shoulders clearly visible in the long grass. Again cross hairs on and it was gone. Now to find it. Following a line out from the rifle, I walked for 50 yards, finding it 5 yards off my line, the eye proving my sighting to be spot on.

Having collected this pair, I walked the fence line again, but saw no more. It had begun to rain with a cold wind, not pleasant for man, or rabbit and I set off for home, quite satisfied with the Nitesite, HMR combo.

 

Bread punch big bream and tench surprise

April 30, 2018 at 4:14 pm

A first visit to any new fishery has an element of wonder and armed only with information from the club secretary, that I would catch on the pole with bread punch, I let myself through the combination controlled gate to follow a wooded footpath leading to the bank of a secluded lake.

First sight filled me with apprehension. There were literally scores of double figure carp cruising around, not my target fish today. I was hoping to be taking roach and skimmer bream on the punch and did not fancy getting tangled up with any of these monsters, the only safety net being my heaviest 12 -18 size elastic through the top two sections of pole.

A 16 g antenna float rig with 2 lb hook line to a size 14 barbless was looped into the stonfo connector at the pole tip and I plumbed the depth, finding 4 feet at 2 metres, dropping to 5 feet deep at 3 metres. I wetted down half a pint of liquidised bread, dropping two squeezed up balls in at the drop off and another a metre further out. With the pole at 3 metres, I swung out the rig with a 5 mm pellet of punched bread and watched the float settle, then lift again, before steadily drifting away and down. A lift and the elastic bounced out of the pole tip as a nice size rudd fought below the surface.

This was a good start. A few more like this one would not go amiss. Another pellet of bread on the hook and I swung out again. An identical bite, a lift of the float, followed by a slow sink away. I raised the pole to set the hook into solid resistance, the elastic now stretched down to the surface and continued out slowly, the pole taking on a bend as the unseen fish thumped rhythmically away on the hook. This had to be a large bream and I added another length of pole to allow me to follow the fish. There was a deep bronze flash beneath the surface, as the elastic exerted maximum pressure. The fish went deep again, swimming toward me and I unshipped the extra metre of pole. It ran out again and I pushed out the landing net as it rolled on the surface. Now on its side, I raised the pole putting more pressure on the bream and it slid toward, then into the net. Phew! It was on the bank.

The hook was just in the side of the lip, pushing out easily with the disgorger. A big male, this bream had white spawning bumps, calcium tubercles covering its head and shoulders, ready to defend its territory from other males, that try to intrude on its harem of spawn heavy females. What a lump, this beast pushing the scales round to 5 lb 12 oz, before I carried it in the landing net to a spot twenty yards along the bank, where I released it.

After the commotion of landing the bream, I dropped another couple of feed balls over the drop off and cast out again. The float settled and sat there for five minutes. I lifted out to check the bread. It was still there. Any rudd, or roach would have taken it by now. I swung the bait out again. The float bobbed, then disappeared down a hole out of sight. The elastic was already coming out as I lifted. Grabbing another length of pole I followed the elastic. Whoa! This fish was shifting. It must be a carp? It then changed direction, boiling the surface. A flash of gold as it reversed again briefly showed a good tench. I hung on, balancing the pole, trying to keep the tip high, the elastic taking the heavy shocks. I’m sure that on a rod and line, I would have been broken by now. The runs slowed and the tench was on the surface and soon netted.

I am not known as a big fish angler and needed to get my breath back after this big female. Once again the hook was just in the lip, this time in the hard tip of the nose. Leaving it in the landing net, the weight was exactly 4 lbs and again carried it away from the swim for release. A cup of tea and a bite of sandwich was needed.

Wiping slime from the line and the shot, I was ready to see what else was on offer, following another couple of feed balls with the float. The antenna sank, then popped up again before I could strike. The float sat still. The bait was gone. I went up a size of punch to 6 mm and double punched a thick pellet then recast. The antenna raised and lowered, then lifted, moving slowly off, sinking away again, until out of sight. A sharp raise of the pole pulled out the elastic again, but this time no explosion, just a steady pull toward the centre of the lake. Another bream? No, the fish suddenly woke up and began to fight its corner, head shaking as it ran, taking out the elastic in spurts, while I added another two lengths of pole to follow its every move. It was being drawn closer as I removed the pole sections again, passing deep across the front of me, but surfacing at the end of its run. An even bigger female tench now lay ready to be netted.

Weighed in at 5 lb 8 oz, this was a new personal best for me, the fact that I also caught it on a so called small fish method, pole with bread punch was an added bonus in my book. I had decided that this and any other large fish would be returned immediately, rather than put in the keep net, avoiding a slimy net being paramount.

The next bite slid away to be met with another explosive reaction from a much smaller, but hyper active male tench that dived and rolled around the swim, until exhausted.

At 2 lb this big finned male seemed like a tiddler in comparison to the previous pair, although what he lacked in weight was made up in sheer muscle power.

I was now ready for anything and when the float sank away again, I guessed it was another tench, larger than the last and just as energetic. To my right was a lily bed and this one kept powering toward it, despite putting on side strain, the elastic following it all the way, until it was in the roots. Several times I tried to pull it free, but each time the lilies pulled back. Time to slacken the line and wait for the float to move off. Minutes later the float tracked away from the bed as the tench swam out of hiding. A long hard pull and the fight was into round two, the tench out for the count, after a few short runs.

This chunky lump of solid muscle weighed in at 3 lb 8 oz. Tench have always been a favourite, the first day of the coarse fishing season on June 16th, being celabrated as a lad, by getting up at 3 am to cycle to the local canal, catching maybe half a dozen tench of a pound on bread, packing up by 7 am to cycle to the newsagents, where I would rush through my paper round, before heading off to school for a sleep!

It was time to top up the liquidised bread feed, have another sandwich and pour more tea, as I was beginning to flag. This was too much excitement for one day.

Rested, I cast out again for the latest instalment, what next? I did not have long to wait. The float dithered, then sank slowly away and I lifted into another big bream with its slow thud, thud fight, the elastic again doing its work, all I had to do was hang on, following each move with the pole, until ready for the net.

Across from me, another angler had hooked a fish as I cast out and was still playing it on rod and line, while I had netted this 4 lb 8 oz bream, weighed it, returned the fish, then rebaited, before he had his landing net out for another large bream.

Bubbles were still bursting over my baited area, when I lifted into another big bream, that kited toward the middle, it being a matter of time, before, on the surface, the net slipped under it.

Full of spawn and round like a dish, the scales dropped to 5 lb 8 oz, this female almost equaling the weight of the first today. Time was now getting on, this had only been intended as a taster session, but there was still time for one more cast and rebaited, the rig was swung out again. They were still feeding, the float taking time to sink out of view and yes, another big bream was steadily pulling out the elastic toward the middle, using its weight to surge away. In a match I would have be trying to get the fish on the bank as quickly as possible, but catching bream is almost relaxing, once hooked in their tough mouths they tend to stay on and it is worth waiting for them to be ready for the net.

Last of the day at 5 lb 4 oz, this was another fatty ready to spawn. I am sure that I could have sat there catching these and more tench for the rest of the afternoon, but that would have to wait for another time, it was time to get out in the motorway traffic, before the rest of humanity.